Left eats left.
In April, civil-rights groups sued to stop some of California’s policies designed to address climate change. Then on Monday, California governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 100, which requires the state’s utilities to obtain all their electricity from carbon-free sources by 2045. Before signing the bill, Brown said the legislation was “sending a message to California and to the world that we’re going to meet the Paris agreement.” In fact, it will only increase the hardships that California’s climate policy imposes on the poor, as detailed in the lawsuit.
High electricity prices should be a concern for California policymakers, since electric rates in the state are already 60 percent higher than those in the rest of the country. According to a recent study by the Berkeley-based think tank Environmental Progress, between 2011 and 2017 California’s electricity rates rose more than five times as fast as those in the rest of the U.S. SB 100 will mean even higher electricity prices for Californians.
In addition to cost, the all-renewable push set forth in SB 100 faces huge challenges with regard to energy storage. Relying solely on renewables will require a battery system large enough to handle massive seasonal fluctuations in wind and solar output. (Wind-energy and solar-energy production in California is roughly three times as great during the summer months as it is in the winter.) According to the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based energy-policy think tank, for California to get 80 percent of its electricity from renewables would require about 9.6 terawatt-hours of storage. This would require about 500 million Tesla Powerwalls, or roughly 15 Powerwalls for every resident. A full 100 percent–renewable electricity mandate would require some 36.3 terawatt-hours of storage, or about 60 Powerwalls for every resident of California.[…]
Even before SB 100 passed, though, California’s leaders were already facing a legal backlash from minority leaders over the high cost of the state’s climate policies. On April 27, The Two Hundred, a coalition of civil-rights leaders, filed a lawsuit in state court against the California Air Resources Board, seeking an injunction against some of the state’s carbon dioxide–reduction rules. The 102-page lawsuit declares that California’s “reputation as a global climate leader is built on the state’s dual claims of substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously enjoying a thriving economy. Neither claim is true.”
The gist of the lawsuit is this: California’s high housing, transportation, and energy costs are discriminatory because they are a regressive tax on the poor. The suit claims that the state’s climate laws violate the Fair Employment and Housing Act because CARB’s new greenhouse-gas-emissions rules on housing units in the state “have a disparate negative impact on minority communities and are discriminatory against minority communities and their members.” The suit also claims the state’s climate laws are illegal under the Federal Housing Act, again because their effect is felt predominantly by minority communities. It also makes a constitutional claim that minorities are being denied equal protection under the law because California’s climate regulations are making affordable housing unavailable to them.
The lawsuit, which Michael Shellenberger of Environmental Progress spotlighted in his recent Forbes column, points out that since 2007, “California has had the highest poverty rate in the country, over 8 million people living below the US Census Bureau poverty line when housing costs are taken into account.” The lawsuit claims that CARB has “ignored” the state’s “modest scale of greenhouse gas reductions, as well as the highly regressive costs imposed on current state residents by CARB’s climate programs.”